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Report 1316: European Travel Back When - 1964

By Marian from New Jersey, Summer 1995

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Page 5 of 20: Days of Wine and Roses

Time to get down to some serious sight-seeing now. I have breakfast in a café, meander around for a bit, meet my Indiana friends S and P for lunch and then on my own do some walking around the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Élysées to the Place de la Concorde and back to Place St Michel. My young friends have not brought really comfortable shoes with them, and cannot walk as much. I make a mental note that I am glad I am mostly on my own, not always having to stop and rest because someone else has not had the foresight to bring appropriate shoes.

This is one of the most beautiful walks I have ever taken! The trees are like a canopy, there is a vista down every broad boulevard. One bad part about these walks is constantly being bothered by what appear to be Algerian immigrants, who are not used to seeing young women alone. Unlike New York City, where one discourages male predators with dirty looks and strong language, here any attention is taken as encouragement. So I learn not to meet the eye of anyone following me, even if they are behind me for blocks and blocks. Eventually, they give up.

I have dinner with S and P and while at dinner, a charming young Frenchwoman sits next to us and introduces herself. Her name is Marlène, and we arrange to meet her again. After dinner a few of us go to hear jazz at one of the caveaux. This is fun!

Another day dawns on "la rive gauche": Café breakfast, NY Times, American Express for mail (two letters from friends!), buy perfume, head for Eiffel Tower, climb tower and see magnificent view, plan to head for Les Invalides: But finally, my feet have given out and I must head back to my hotel. When I head out for dinner, I cannot find S and P, but do see the two young Frenchmen from the other night. They take us to a great Chinese restaurant, where we eat wonderfully for under 10 francs each. More walking, getting lost, and gradually pairing up with one of the young Frenchmen, J-L, who is really very sweet. We will all meet again tomorrow evening.

It’s Thursday, June 11 and I’ve been in Paris nearly a week. I am getting lazy, so I oversleep, have a leisurely lunch, and head for Notre Dame and Les Invalides. I pass some of the time between “sights” by sitting in the park, playing with little children. We American girls meet the French “boys” for dinner; they bring us roses.

Now it’s Friday, and I visit the Louvre for the first time. Its hugeness has intimidated me, but today I go and see some of the European paintings. La Tour, Le Nain, Caravaggio ---- these are some of my favorites. I do some shopping and buy an elegant pair of white, high-heeled sandals (60 francs). When I wear them, I really feel like une française.

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